- Education and Science
Do We Need New Wisdom, That Too, From a New Philosophy?
Is this century going to be an era of philosophical change?
'Philosophy' is from philo ("love") and sophia ("wisdom"). It is a Greek word meaning 'lover of wisdom' (philosopher) to contrast with another Greek word meaning 'wise man' (sophist). But, are we becoming any wiser, especially since, we humans are always longing to go deeper and deeper, where our vision tends to become narrower.
Philosophy only, can halt the society going wayward
Early Searches for Reality
To be wise, one need to know what real things are. One should also know, among them what is good for whatever one’s need is, and how to think such that one reaches the exact answers to these questions. We can call this the three divisions of wisdom, corresponding to the three major sub-sets of philosophy, namely (Meta)physics, Ethics, and Logic. The way our society is organized and, whether the current path it takes is of progress or otherwise, are largely based on our appreciation of these parameters.
The earliest civilization to seek answers seems to be The Greek. (It is possible that there were many civilizations, even earlier to this. It is also possible that those people were quite self-contained and happy, and having no problems in life. In that case, there would have been no need for extensive questions and answers about the conduct of the most fundamental activity of life, living. Hence, those cultures didn't leave any trail. Greece seems to be the first culture to experience failure in the activities of life) Whichever way the Greek acquired the answers, whether by traveling to Africa for studying with the wise men of ancient Egypt, as suggested by some experts, or by their own vision, they created the Greek Golden Era. Many records of ancient wisdom, almost all of those belonging to rather esoteric transactions, remain. And time and again, analysis and dissertations of these topics appear in our midst, garnering the interest, mainly of scholars.
Philosophy, an Offshoot of Reality:
Whatever direction, philosophy took in Greece and thereafter in rest of the world, can be seen to be closely dependent on the state of natural science (What, real things are) prevailing there. The idea of matter having an identifiable and definite internal structure, and the possibility of predictable interactions and responses, seems to have guided the growth of philosophy into various branches, each having its own concepts. And these concepts have given rise to our large collection of qualities, attributes, and such other abstrat specifications, each of these having its roles and functions. In addition, many of these also became mutually exclusive.
For many years, human society continued in this path, accumulating the output provided by its combined effort.Much later this resulted in the industrial revolution. It brought in some lasting changes, a significant one being to make the records of our wisdom, universally accessible. Physics thereafter kept on going forward in leaps and bounds, taking us along. Distinctive differences became a staple element of reality. And we continued to dwell on ethics, logic, and all, keeping pace with physics. Hence we also happen to have distinct concepts in all branches of philosophy, like ethics and logic. For example, we have definite ideas about human nature, like good-bad, light-dark, true-false, etc.
..and No Room for Doubts
Such firm demarcations never posed a difficulty, since, in the physical world, that is what we have been experiencing. Things can have their attributes or properties specified clearly. Like lighter than water, or heavier, those go faster than sound, or slower, etc., leaving one with no doubts about the expected behavior or reactions. And whatever abstract notions we held about our social interactions, like truth, falsehood, esteem, etc., were rather clear thoughts, which could be easily demarcated, more or less in agreement with our idea of reality.
Where Science Points to
Now physics is likely to face a change, or is already into, if quantum effects are to be in contention. This calls for a fresh look at our philosophy, and everything that follows, like logical, moral or aesthetic transactions. Won’t real things, will now look different, the main are of change being indistinct separations? Don't we need to rehash ethics, logic, and all, to keep pace with that change? And hence we need to have rather indistinct concepts of good-bad, light-dark, true-false, etc.? A total change in our ideas of morality, such that any action can either get termed as a worthy act or despised as a bad thing, based on certain parameters of interest? Say, a quantum change in philosophy?
..and the Change?
I haven’t come across such questions anywhere. But, the recurring turbulence in our societies clearly indicates that something is amiss. Which is beyond issues. I admit, we constantly find a few issues always dormant in a society, like linguistic, ethnic, dietary, religious or political differences. And at any time we attribute the current disturbances to one among those. Perhaps this is where the causes lie, in our propensity to find a cause and be contented about it. This is giving us pseudo comfort, by making us feel that we have established a reason. But the society soon erupts somewhere else.
We need the wisdom of a new philosophy and its sub-sets, to create fresh standards of morals, ethics, and all. Which should empower us in finding the true reasons, and effect a lasting solution.